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Ashish Jha to leave post as White House COVID-19 czar, return to Brown University

Jha plans to leave the White House on June 15 to return to his previous position as dean of Brown University’s School of Public Health on July 1

White House COVID-19 Response Coordinator Dr. Ashish Jha speaks during the daily press briefing at the White House Dec. 15, 2022 in Washington, DC.Drew Angerer/Getty

PROVIDENCE — Dr. Ashish Jha, who took a temporary leave from his post at Brown University to serve as the White House COVID-19 czar in March 2022, will leave the Biden administration next week.

Jha plans to leave the White House on June 15 to return to his previous position as dean of Brown University’s School of Public Health on July 1. He will be the administration’s last of the rotating COVID-19 czars.

When he was appointed to tackle the nation’s post-emergency phase of the pandemic, the administration transitioned from reacting to the virus to a public health management approach.


Jha’s “appointment to the White house was a temporary leave from Brown,” said university spokesman Brian Clark on a call with the Globe on Thursday. “He’s been in touch with other leaders at Brown over the last few months to discuss the timing [of his return].”

“When I took office, our nation was facing a once-in-a generation pandemic, hit with a virus that changed everything. Thanks to my Administration’s whole-of-government approach, we now have the tools to manage COVID-19 and the virus no longer controls our daily lives. For the last year, I have relied on Dr. Ashish Jha to help me do just that as the White House COVID-19 Response Coordinator,” said President Biden in a statement Thursday. “As one of the leading public health experts in America, he has effectively translated and communicated complex scientific challenges into concrete actions that helped save and improve the lives of millions of Americans.”

Jha took over the COVID-19 coordinator position from , who is now serving as White House chief of staff.

The Biden administration’s public health emergency ended on May 11.

“We are in a world drastically altered by the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Jha in a statement to the Globe. “For all we have accomplished to reduce illness and save lives, COVID-19 has exposed the weaknesses in our public health and health care systems.”


Jha was named dean of Brown’s School of Public Health in February 2020 after leading the Harvard Global Health Institute; he official took over in September 2020. He quickly introduced a series of high-impact initiatives at Brown and championed an expansive portfolio of research and education priorities.

He also helped guide the university through the pandemic and informed Rhode Island’s vaccine rollout and helped craft Brown’s vaccine policy. Brown was one of the first universities in the state to require all students and employees to be fully vaccinated before returning to campus for the fall 2021 semester, and was committed to keeping students on campus and learning in the classroom.

Jha said his return to Brown offers an opportunity to use insights from leading the nation’s pandemic response to train the “next generation of public health leaders.”

“I look forward to returning to Brown to continue our groundbreaking work transforming public health education, research and practice to convert these weaknesses to strengths,” said Jha.

While Jha was working in Washington, Interim Dean Ronald Aubert led the charge in launching Brown’s Pandemic Center, which was designed to connect policymakers with data-driven recommendations to mitigate disruption during global epidemics.

Upon Jha’s return, Aubert will take on the permanent role of senior associate dean of education at the school, according to Clark.

This article has been updated with a statement from Dr. Ashish Jha.


Alexa Gagosz can be reached at Follow her @alexagagosz and on Instagram @AlexaGagosz.